Why are people who never coded managing software engineers?

Why are people who never coded managing software engineers?

You Want The Right People Managing Your Software Engineers

Your experience of management is somewhat different than mine. Every company I have worked at had managers that were previously coders, DBAs, DevOps, etc. However, I can tell you that those managers did a horrible job managing in most cases.

As eluded by another contributor, management (direct to executive) has many other components that are the least technical. You have personalities, paperwork, reports, and meetings that require minimal skills and knowledge in technology, coding, etc. Similarly, most highly technical engineers don’t want those responsibilities.

Management is Conceptual and Strategic

Another factor to consider is management, by its sheer nature, is very conceptual and strategic. Knowing how to write a sorting algorithm bares nothing to a person whose position is figuring out how to architect technology to solve business problems and accomplish it within a budget.

Have you ever given an estimate to your manager on how long it will take to do something and then have to negotiate on that estimate because they always want it sooner? Well, that’s management. As an engineer, you want to build things in a way that fulfills your pride as a coder. The manager is given a timeline and budget to deliver something to his/her superiors, which may go against a coder’s standards.

Management vs. Development

In my experience, I was and always is a self-learned programmer. I didn’t go to school for it, but I trained significantly over 20 years using different methods that would parallel a college education. However, I’ve never been obsessive about a specific technology stack or writing over-optimized code. I’ve always done the job efficiently, on time, and on budget. I became a generalist and focused more on the “Why” you would do things.

By default, I became more of an architect/problem solver. I knew that I wasn’t the best coder – average at best – so I chose to be a manager of developers, getting a business degree in management to understand the psychological and sociological aspects of managing people, as someone had mentioned in another post.


Since then, I managed teams at two startups and started my software consultancy. From a development manager to now a CEO, a tiny, if any, part of my day involves coding. I could have absolutely no coding knowledge and still be successful as a leader in my organization. I will not lie, I miss putting on headphones and coding all day. I’ve relegated that to a hobby because I love programming. But it’s not a requirement or a necessity to successfully manage coders.

You should be glad that your manager is not a coder if that’s the case. Think about the moments you’ve argued with another coder about how to program something. Now, imagine that person being your manager/boss. You want a manager who trusts your skills to do the job, not micro-manage. In short, embrace the fact that you may have a manager that doesn’t know coding but trusts you.

If you need a team with technical expertise to manage your software engineers, contact us at Grata Software today. We’ll provide you with all the management services you need to help your business thrive.

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